(UPDATED) TAIPEI–Taiwan swore in Tsai Ing-wen as its first female president Friday ahead of a grand ceremony celebrating the island’s unique identity, likely to raise hackles in Beijing as ties with China rapidly cool.
Tsai took office after winning a landslide victory in January to defeat the ruling Kuomintang, ending an eight-year rapprochement with Beijing under outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou.
Voters felt Ma had moved too close to China, which still sees self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
Beijing-sceptic Tsai swept in with a campaign to restore Taiwanese pride, a message that resonated with a public tired of living in China’s shadow.
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As 20,000 invited guests and cheering members of the public watched outside the presidential office, Tsai raised her right arm as she read the oath in front of Taiwan’s national flag.
She received the seal of the Republic of China — Taiwan’s official name — and the presidential seal.
Tsai then accompanied Ma out of the presidential office as he shook hands with smiling staff and a brass marching band paraded.
“Tsai Ing-wen is the first woman president in Taiwan’s history so I want to witness this sacred moment,” said teacher Chen Su-mei, 48, who watched the swearing in on a big screen outside the presidential office.
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